Moffat County commissioners approve grant application for broadband access improvements in Little Snake River area
Grant request — through Range Broadband — totals more than $788,000 for the northeast part of the county
Residents in Northeast Moffat County will receive improvements to broadband access through fiber optics following the approval of a grant application through Range Broadband by county commissioners Tuesday morning.
Range Broadband’s grant application, which totals a request of more than $788,000, aims to provide fiber optic connections to residents in the northeast part of the county.
The project area is located in rural northeast Moffat County, near the Colorado/Wyoming border, and most customers are situated along the Little Snake River. This area is not within any municipal boundaries. The closest municipality is Baggs, Wyoming which is where Range’s central office resides. Range plans to provide fiber to the premise connections to 18 households and four community anchor institution locations in the area.
Range previously submitted a grant request to the Colorado Broadband Deployment Program in January, which proposed to provide fiber optic access to 22 locations in the northern part of the state, of which three of those locations fall inside Moffat County.
According to Adria Trembly of Range Broadband, the company is pursuing a grant to help cover 75% of the estimated $1 million cost for the project due to the exorbitantly high costs to lay fiber optic lines in rural communities.
“The reason we have not provided fiber optic to this area is because the cost is exorbitantly high; we’re looking at roughly $48,000 per location,” Trembly said. “That’s mostly because population density is so low, and distance is so great, and plowing fibers into the ground is not cheap. Trembly added that the grant Range applied for is designed essentially for the areas of the state like this.
“We would very much like to deploy adequate broadband to this area of the state,” Trembly added.“The main reason that we have applied for a grant is that deploying broadband to this area is extremely spread out in terms of households, which makes a project extremely expensive. With the grant, we should be able to get the cost per location down to about $12,000.”
There is no cost to Moffat County for the project, which was a concern for Commissioner Tony Bohrer. Trembly said that the rest of the cost comes out of Range Broadband’s pockets after the initial grant is used up.
Prior to approving the application, commissioners needed to receive feedback from the community stating that they did not have broadband access, or that their internet speed did not meet broadband speed definitions.
In total, eight people reached out to commissioners ahead of Tuesday’s public hearing. Of the eight, five stated that they did not have access to broadband at their location, while the other three conducted speed tests and failed to meet the definition of broadband access.
“They don’t have fast internet,” Trembly stated. “They have something, but it’s not good and doesn’t meet their household needs.”
With the required number of responses from those that would be affected by the fiberoptic access, Trembly stated that the Colorado Broadband Office would be required to give Range Broadband’s application significant weight when determining which grants would be funded this year.
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